BY JESSICA WEAVER
Cooper City High School has seen many cutbacks this year as a result to a lack of funding from the state for education, as seen in the number of available supplies, larger class sizes and reduction in the amount of teachers.
Governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature made many controversial choices this year in order to cut Florida’s $3.5 billion deficit, including limiting educational funding. Scott has cut almost 7.5% of Florida’s educational budget, which is roughly $1.7 billion. With this change, the per-student funding is now a statewide average of about $6,725, and the national per student funding is about $11,000. Because of this, Florida has been ranked second to last out of the 50 states and District of Columbia to receive educational funding.
“Our school depends on different support mechanisms, and they just aren’t available right now,” Principal Wendy Doll said.
Cooper City High School has had to make major changes for the 2011-2012 school year, one of which is the increase of class sizes. Because of recent teacher lay offs, some classrooms are now holding up around 35 students. Last year, “core” classes, such as English, Math and Science, held a maximum of 25 students. This year the state has reclassified some classes as “non-core” to get around the voter mandated class size law.
Broward County, one of the hardest hit school districts, laid off over 1,400 teachers and nearly 600 district employees. This number is projected to increase by the end of September. To lower costs, teachers are also being asked to work two days without pay.
“Our teachers have the same academic expectations,” Doll said. “They’re still going to teach kids and cover the necessary material.”
In order to make some space in classes, the state came up with a new policy that by graduation, students must complete one online class. This rule will not only help decrease the size of some classes, but also give students the opportunity to take more classes and earn more credits.
CCHS has also had to cutback on supplies. Textbooks are in low supply; some students still have yet to get one. It is said that by next year textbooks will only come in class sets. As of now, the students that received books have had to carry them back and forth because the classes were unable to provide both a class and home set. Other supplies, such as paper, continue to be a critical need. During open house, the PTSA held a paper drive in which parents donated copy paper to teachers.
“We are doing the best we can,” science teacher Herb Slusher said. “Teachers are still going to teach, no mater what.”